This vegan apple cake is moist and melt-in-your-mouth and has a delectable pecan crumble. It can also be made gluten free, nut free and refined sugar free. This cake is the perfect morning or afternoon tea cake.
This apple crumb cake recipe is a reader favourite on Rainbow Nourishments and for good reason! It's incredibly easy to make and uses only common pantry ingredients.
Why this is the best vegan apple cake
Now, I've tried many cakes but this is the best vegan apple cake because it uses grated apples instead of cubed apples.
The grated apple creates a melt-in-your-mouth texture rather than a crunchy/chewy dried apple texture. This vegan apple cake is just like classic carrot cake but with apples!
Step by step video: how to make this vegan apple crumb cake
8 ingredients you'll need
This vegan apple cake is eggless and dairy free but uses common pantry ingredients including:
- Plain / all-purpose flour.
- Sugar such as coconut, brown or cane. I personally prefer coconut sugar as it has a caramel flavour and isn't as moist as brown sugar (which helps make the cake fluffier).
- Plant based milk. I've use almond, coconut and soy and they all work well.
- Apple, grated very coarsely or chopped finely. I used a mini food processor to grate my apple so my grated apple resembled large matchsticks. Some hand held graters will grate the apple too finely which will not work for this cake!
- Liquid vegetable oil, such as sunflower or rapeseed.
- Apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or lemon juice. This will give the cake a more tender and delicate crumb.
- Baking powder.
- Cinnamon and salt.
My top tips to make a FLUFFY vegan apple cake
Grate your apple COARSELY or chop it finely! My food processor grated my apples so they resembled large and thick match sticks which didn't leak any juice (see above for a visual guide).
Some hand held graters will grate your apple too finely (even with the coarse side). If so, simply use less dairy free milk in your cake batter (details are in the notes of the recipe card below).
Like all of my cake recipes, I'd recommend using grams when measuring out your ingredients!
Also, make sure your oven isn't too hot (many ovens don't have an accurate temperature so I recommend using an oven thermometer in the long term).
If your vegan apple cake is browning too quickly but it's still raw inside, simply cover the cake pan with aluminium foil or an oven-safe tray. And reduce the oven by 10°C (50°F).
Making the thick cake batter
This vegan apple cake can be made in one bowl! Simply:
- Mix all the dry ingredients until combined
- Add all the wet ingredients and mix until it just combined. The batter should be thick but still spoonable and pourable.
- Keep the same bowl for the crumb topping 🙂
Since the batter is thick, when you scoop/pour the batter into your cake tin, you'll need to smooth the top using a spoon or spatula. If the batter sticks to your spoon/saptula, simply wet it and smooth it again.
Making the vegan crumble
The crumb topping is my favourite part of this apple cake. I took the crumble to the next level with PECANS and cinnamon!
To make the topping, simply add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until there are no large bits of flour or butter.
I've also included a healthier crumble recipe which is refined sugar free and oil free (see the notes of the recipe card). The healthier crumble is crunchy and slightly chewy depending on the viscosity of your liquid sweetener.
Decorating the vegan apple crumb cake
Inspired by the German Apple Cake Apfelkuchen, I decorated the cake with fans of thinly sliced apples. However, you can also top the cake with:
- Roughly chopped apples (makes cutting the cake easier)
- Shredded coconut
- Pecans or other nuts by themselves
Making a gluten free vegan apple cake
To make this cake gluten free, I'd recommend using a high quality 1:1 gluten free all-purpose flour OR a combination of almond meal and fine white rice flour.
Why the combination? Almond meal lends moisture (many gf flours are quite dry) whereas fine white rice flour is super light and helps make a fluffy vegan apple cake.
This vegan apple tea cake isn't sub-par when it's gluten-free. I first tested the recipe using gluten-free flour then substituted it with plain / all-purpose flour to see if it'd work in reverse.
Questions and Answers
Yes! Just keep in mind that these flours will make the cake more dense.
Walnuts would be the best substitute! If not, any other (chopped) nut or even sunflower or pumpkin seeds. You can also use more flour but I can't advise on the quantity of flour as I haven't tried it for this recipe.
Your oven may be more hot or cold than it says. If the top of your cake is browning and the middle isn't cooked, cover the cake with aluminium foil or an oven-safe tray and reduce the heat of the oven by 10°C (50°F). This cake is high in fruit and moisture so can take a little longer than regular cakes to bake.
I haven't tried it myself but some of my readers have done this successfully! Note that your cake may be more dense.
Yes, I'd recommend following my vegan apple muffins recipe instead! It uses the same ingredients but provides a few tips for muffins in particular.
Yep, go for it!
How to serve this apple cake
The cake doesn't need any extra frosting or icing. It is sweet enough and there is enough texture in the cake for it to be enjoyed by itself!
If you're having guests over for tea or coffee, you can dust the top with powdered sugar for prettiness. The cake is also very portable so you can bring it to a picnic or potluck.
Whether you call this a vegan tea cake, vegan apple coffee cake or vegan Apfelkuchen, this cake is mind-blowingly delicious!
Check out my other vegan apple recipes
- Classic Vegan Apple Pie
- Easy Vegan Apple Bread
- Vegan Apple Crumble Pie
- Apple and Blueberry Oat Crumble Muffins
- Apple Custard Cinnamon Rolls
Or here are some other vegan desserts for Autumn/Fall
- Vegan Pumpkin Chai Donuts
- Sweet Potato and Cinnamon Bundt Cake
- Chai and pumpkin (almost) raw cheesecake
Vegan Apple Cake with Pecan Crumble
Dry ingredients for apple cake
Wet ingredients for apple cake
- 1 x (180g) medium-sized apple, grated very coarsely or chopped finely (note 2)
- 1 cup (250g) dairy free milk, such as almond, soy or coconut
- ½ cup (120g) light-tasting vegetable oil, such as sunflower or rapeseed
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Crumble topping (note 3)
- ⅓ cup (35g) pecans, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup (30g) plain or all-purpose flour, or gluten-free all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (30g) vegan butter, margarine or solid coconut oil, softened (use refined coconut oil if you don't want a coconut flavour)
- 2 tablespoons (20g) coconut sugar, brown sugar or cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 x (180g) medium-size apple, sliced thinly
To serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake pan with baking paper.
To make the vegan apple cake:
- Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix until there are no lumps. Add all of the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined. The batter should be thick but still spoonable and pourable. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.
To prepare the crumble topping:
- In a medium bowl, add all the crumble ingredients. Mix with a spoon or your fingertips until combined and there are no more pockets of butter or flour.
To assemble and bake:
- Arrange the thinly sliced apple on the top of the cake in 'fan' shapes or as desired. Scatter the crumble in the gaps on top of the cake.
- Bake the cake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer can be inserted into the middle and there is no wet batter on it. The cake is very moist and there might be some crumbs on the skewer which is fine. If the cake is browning too quickly at any point, cover it with an oven-safe plate or aluminium foil.
- Allow the cake to rest in the cake tin for at least 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and dust with powered sugar if desired. Serve and enjoy!
- The cake can be kept at room temperature for 1 day or in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days.
- For a gluten free vegan apple crumb cake, substitute the plain flour for a good quality 1:1 gluten free all-purpose flour OR 1 ½ cups (150g) almond meal and 1 cup (160g) fine white rice flour.
- This recipe will not work if you grate the apples too finely! Sometimes hand held graters will grate the apple too finely. I used the largest grater attachment of my mini food processor which created apple pieces that resembled very large and dry match sticks. The grated apple shouldn't leak any juice (refer to the pictures and video above for guidance). If your grated apple does leak juice, use only ¾ cup (190g) dairy free milk in the recipe.
- For a healthier crumble, use the same amount of pecans, flour and cinnamon but combine it with 1 tbsp of maple syrup (instead of the sugar and butter). Mix all ingredients until there are no pockets of flour or syrup then crumble the mixture on the cake.
This post and recipe was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021 with a video, more detailed pictures and an easier crumble. A version of the original healthier crumble is in the notes!
Please leave a comment below if you made this recipe, have any questions or thoughts! Your comment will help other readers and Rainbow Nourishments.